I've had an eventful and surprisingly refreshing week. Weekend with cartesiandaemon, followed by a trip to Edinburgh and two interviews, and then back to deal with some urgent stuff at work.
Friday evening I helped Joanna run her egal service. It went really well, perhaps the best we've had yet, and we had some great discussion going about whether liturgy needs to be "theologically correct". We are normally completely finished and packed up by 9, so I hadn't worried about missing a 10 pm bus, but the discussion got so heated that eventually I had to excuse myself and leave early. The problem with that is that I am the only person who both knows how to use the alarm system and is willing to do that on Shabbat (grr shul installing a security system which not only breaks all the time, but requires people to break Shabbat!), so my needing to leave forced us to break up the whole event. I felt bad about doing that, but equally didn't want to leave cartesiandaemon stranded in the airport.
So in the event cartesiandaemon's flight was two hours late, which was really very annoying; getting in at 10:40 would have been perfect, because it would have meant I could meet him straight from shul with no waiting around, and we'd have got home at a civilized hour. (I couldn't have stayed at shul longer, though, cos the bus I caught was the last.) However, it's silly to complain about annoying geography when the outcome was getting to see cartesiandaemon! We had a lovely, lovely weekend together, and sort of vaguely noticed that it happened to be valentine's day, but that was more a coincidence than anything else. I'd intended to have a gathering on Sunday but in the end was too worried about travelling, so we skipped that and just had tea and chat with Joanna instead. For V-day itself I took cartesiandaemon to Dragon House, the nice Chinese restaurant we went to for the work do, which isn't very romantic as such, but has some of the best (and most authentic) Chinese food I've tried anywhere. We shared a plate of toffee apples for dessert, the kind that come sizzling hot and you have to dump them in water and make long strings of caramelly sugar before they solidify too much to eat, which certainly counts as fun food, and a real test of chopstick manipulation.
Then we flew to Edinburgh on Monday evening (yay for cartesiandaemon being willing to change plans and come with me at the last minute!) The trip was easy in spite of being evil Ryanair, and we were cosy in our hotel by 9 pm. I picked it because it was cheap (yay travelling as off-season as you could possibly imagine), and very central, just a couple of blocks from the station. It wasn't at all bad for what it was, either; one of those rabbit warren places made of several townhouses knocked together, with odd-shaped rooms and funny little staircases and nooks. Our room had two features I really like: an actual bath, and facilities for making tea, but otherwise it was fairly threadbare. And they fed us a nice cooked breakfast including plenty of veggie options, and were happy to provide me with tea and toast before the official breakfast time when I needed to leave early. The staff seemed to be all Eastern European, Polish if I were to take a guess; I had heard of that phenomenon in the UK but not experienced it.
Tuesday morning I set off for Middlesbrough and the first job interview. The journey along the east coast line is stunningly pretty, and I managed to mostly ignore being surrounded by a posh Edinburgh family with some irritating children. The children were being very good, and I could just see the parents gritting their teeth and trying to encourage them, but they were doing that endless running commentary thing, really shrill and repetitive. I did manage to get some reading done for the following day's interview, though. I ended up being five minutes late, which isn't a great start, but the train was a few minutes late, and the taxi ride took a few minutes longer than I'd predicted based on the website instructions, and the previous train was a whole hour earlier which would just have been annoying. My new shoes turned out not to be even as comfortable as I'd hoped when I tried them on; they rubbed my ankles and pinched my toes, and I was in agony by the end of the day. That was a really bad purchase, which shows you should never go shoe-shopping in a hurry.
cartesiandaemon met me from the train, which really did make me feel loved, especially as he brought me some decent shoes! We didn't really have enough daylight left, and I didn't have enough energy, for touristy things, so we went and sat in the elephant house and drank tea and post-mortemed the interview and watched the sunset over Greyfriars Cemetery and Edinburgh Castle. lethargic_man was very helpful in texting me the address of the café, cos I couldn't remember where it was; I'm a little disappointed that it's now Harry Potter themed and a bit touristy, cos it was somewhat off the beaten track when I went there previously. But a lot less bad than it could be, anyway.
Then we went looking to see if Anna Purna, the lovely veggie Indian restaurant in the Southside, was still around, and indeed it is. It's not quite as cheap as I remembered it, but still very affordable, and very much satisfying to my craving for Indian food. It's not your standard Anglo-Indian Balti place, the food is Gujerati and a bit regional, with novel dishes and flavours. I mentioned to the waiters that I used to come there regularly when I lived in the area a few years ago, and they were so charmed that they insisted on giving us free drinks! They also said that they were the nephews of the previous owner, who had now retired but kept the business in the family. Ever so sweet, and it lived up to my memory of being one of the nicest mid-range restaurants ever.
Wednesday I had to make an early start to get to Glasgow for a 9 am interview, but managed to get myself out of bed in good time. The interview was both intense and informal, if that makes sense; I was pretty exhausted after three hours, anyway. cartesiandaemon continued being lovely and supportive, and met my train with a goodie bag containing sandwiches, Rainbows end for reading on the journey, and a box of nice English teabags to take home. We had ten minutes to say goodbye and then I had to dash for the airport. I must admit it's nicer being a little late, because then you don't have to spend a whole two hours hanging around in the boring airport. But I probably shouldn't make a habit of it turning up just before it's time to go to the gate.
I feel really good about the whole trip; two interviews in two days is exhausting, but having cartesiandaemon there made the whole thing a lot more relaxing.